Deep South USA Blog

You can travel and celebrate the most colourful days of Autumn in Tennessee with relaxing hikes & scenic drives all with a beautiful backdrop of rainbow Autumn colours.

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

With autumn days quickly approaching towards the end of September, fall is the idyllic time to visit the most brilliant hues and outdoor beauty Tennessee has to offer. You can experience Tennessee's sprawling rainbow of autumn colours with Instagram-worthy, leaf-peeping spots and relaxing hikes, scenic drives and hidden outdoor treasures.

Tennessee’s stunning fall foliage is credited to its diverse tree species. Visitors from all over travel to experience the season’s kaleidoscope of colours, including bright oranges, vibrant yellows and deep reds. Due to the state’s changing topography, each region of the state experiences peak colours at varying times, making a road trip even more enjoyable. To view the best times to catch fall foliage, visit’s leaf-peeping guide here.

  • Experience Fall’s Many Colours with Tennessee Tourism’s Colourblind Viewfinders

Fall often brings jumper weather, pumpkin spice lattes and the colourful splendour of autumn leaves. Tennessee Tourism realised that many with red-green colour deficiency often can’t experience the full bloom of fall colours. So in 2017, the state installed EnChroma lenses engineered with spectral lens technology so that people with colour blindness could participate and share the true colours of fall. Now, those wishing to experience Tennessee’s vibrant colours can find Colorblind Viewfinders at destinations such as Chickasaw State Park, Ruby Falls, I-26 Westbound Scenic Overlook and more. To view the full list of 12 destinations statewide, click here.

Feel the Crunch of Fallen Leaves with these Autumn Hikes 

Escape into delightful fall foliage at one of Tennessee’s 56-state parks, which all offer free admission for hiking, kayaking, rafting, paddle-boarding, boating and other outdoor adventures. Get lost in the rainbow of orange, red and yellows in Roan Mountain State Park’s 2,000 acres of beautiful forest and sprawling ridges, view unique rock formations, colourful woodlands and picturesque panoramic overlooks at South Cumberland State Park along with many more fall treasures to stumble upon. The crisp, autumn air and stunning collage of fall colours make Tennessee the perfect autumn destination for those wanting to get outside and try out those new hiking boots.

  • T.O. Fuller State Park in Memphis

Located just outside Memphis, T.O. Fuller State Park was the first state park for African-Americans east of the Mississippi River. Named after Dr. Thomas O. Fuller, who came to Memphis as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Memphis, this area is full of hiking and history. Only 10-miles from Graceland, the park provides 8-miles of hiking trails, birding opportunities and scenic views. So pack a picnic with tasty treats and enjoy an autumn day on one of the 35-picnic tables located within the park.

  • Radnor Lake State Park in Nashville

Escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Nashville this autumn and head to Radnor Lake State Park. Boasting over 1,368 acres, visitors can experience Middle Tennessee’s rich fall colours amongst the park’s abundant species, observe wildlife and take advantage of the Walter Criley Visitor Center and Historic Valve House Trail to learn more about the area.

  • Natchez Trace State Park in Wildersville

With a range of activities, including hiking through beautiful forests, four lakes for fishing, boating and paddling, archery and firing range and horseback riding, Natchez Trace State Park is the perfect fall spot for the whole family. Spend the day learning about the history in the park’s museum, float down Pin Oak Lake on a kayak or pontoon and dine on southern-style cuisine at The Restaurant at Natchez Trace. Make it a weekend by booking a room at The Lodge or renting one of the park’s lakeside cabins.

  • House Mountain State Natural Area in Corryton

Classified as Knox County’s highest point, House Mountain provides expansive views of the surrounding areas, making it an ideal hike for leaf-peeping. Among the 527-acres of natural area, experience unique wildlife, trees and wildflowers, all within a short driving distance from downtown Knoxville.

  • Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium in Kingsport

This 3,550-acre nature preserve features 38-miles of trails for hiking and biking and a 44-acre lake. Take in the surrounding vibrant fall colours with a slow-paced barge ride across the lake or hike the Fire Tower Trail up to the Bays Mountain Fire Tower to take in the scenic views from above. During the fall months, the park offers many events, including Campfire tales, guided history hikes, nature evening paddles, nights with the rangers and a bike rally.

Start the Car! Take an Autumn Road Trip Along Tennessee’s Scenic Byways

Hit the open road for an unforgettable fall foliage driving tour along Tennessee’s scenic byways. Whether cruising along the Cherohala Skyway National Scenic Byway, Sequatchie Valley Scenic Byway, the Americana Music Triangle, Ocoee Scenic Byway or the Great Smoky Mountains Byway, capture the clear autumn skies, colourful leaves and hidden outdoor treasures Tennessee offers along the way.

  • Cherohala Skyway National Scenic Byway

The Cherohala Skyway National Scenic Byway crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests, thus “Chero-hala.” At 5,400-foot elevations, drive above the clouds and catch a glimpse of stunning fall scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains and the Tennessee River Valley. The Skyway is known among motorcycling circles for its long, sweeping corners, making its mile-high vistas and brilliant views the perfect autumn background.

  • Natchez Trace Parkway

This fall hit the open road on Tennessee’s very own historic byway, Natchez Trace Parkway. The 444-mile route that runs from Mississippi, through north-western Alabama, and ends in Davidson County is filled with endless photo opportunities, historical sites, charming towns and state parks. Looking for the best leaf-peeping and cute fall photo opportunities? Check out the Fall Hollow Waterfall, Devil’s Backbone State Natural Area, Jackson Falls, the town of Leiper’s Fork and Birdsong Hollow along the pathway.

  • Sequatchie Valley Scenic Byway

Put on a fall music playlist and follow State Route 20 along the Sequatchie River one the Sequatchie Valley Scenic Byway. Along the way, take in the allure of small town Tennessee, brightly coloured trees, pumpkin patches, wildflowers and charming houses and barns.

  • Ocoee Scenic Byway

Spend the day winding through the Tennessee Overhill region on the Ocoee Scenic Byway, known for its historic copper and coal mining area. Cruise up and down bluffs, ride along breathtaking rivers and take in the bright fall leaves cascading down the mountains for a stunning autumn getaway. Stop and check out Savannah Oaks Winery, McMinn City Living Heritage Museum, Ft. Loudoun State Historic Park, the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, the Historic Unicoi Turnpike Trail and Ocoee State Park along the way.

  • Great Smoky Mountains Byway

Boasting millions of visitors each year, the Great Smoky Mountains’ sprawling hills and winding roads make it the ideal road trip destination. Pack the snacks and put on a good playlist to embark on the ultimate scenic fall fix. Along the byway, road trippers can experience panoramic views of some of the season’s best colours, grab a bite of local cuisine and stroll through the charming downtowns of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and many more.

For more information on any of the above or to request a Tennessee travel guide email 

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